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Right Writing News, June 15, 2009, Issue #39
June 14, 2009

Welcome to the 39th issue to subscribers of Right Writing News. If you are reading this issue forwarded from someone, be sure and use the link below to get your own free subscription.

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Table of Contents

1) Meet You At A Conference?
By W. Terry Whalin

2) Jumpstart Your Conference Experience
By W. Terry Whalin

3) A New Guide to Social Media Marketing

4) The Details of Making Books
By W. Terry Whalin

5) The Power of Asking
By W. Terry Whalin

6) How To Develop An Original Voice
By Laura Backes

Meet You At A Conference?

By W. Terry Whalin

Last month I was at three conferences in three different parts of the United States. I've enjoyed meeting different writers, listening to their stories and seeing how I can help them through my work as a publisher at Intermedia Publishing Group.

Over the next several months I will be speaking and attending three additional conferences. I hope to see you at one of these conferences. I encourage you to add it to your plans for the coming months.

You can always check the dates for my speaking schedule on this page.

Next weekend, June 19 and 20th, I will be the keynote speaker at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. Besides speaking several times, I will be leading one workshop and meeting individually with many writers. I look forward to seeing how I can help you and spending time with you at this conference.

From July 27th through July 30th, I will be at the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Coaching Conference where I'll be teaching some workshops and meeting with individual writers.

August 6 through 8th, I'll be teaching a continuing class called Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. Besides my teaching, I will be meeting individually with writers to learn about their projects and how I can help them through my role as a publisher at Intermedia Publishing Group.

I know that it takes effort to get to one of these conferences but I look forward to meeting you in person this summer. From my experiences of attending these conferences, the effort is well worth the reward of new relationships and greater insight into your own writing life.

Jumpstart Your Conference Experience

By W. Terry Whalin

In less than a week, I'm headed to Elizabethtown, Kentucky for the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. I look forward to seeing you there. I've been preparing to my keynote messages and my workshop. I've been sorting through my 20+ years in publishing to give the perfect focus to these messages.

I love writers' conferences. I've found it to be a grand idea haven where we can talk shop and learn from other writers. If you want to succeed in the writing business, I've got four keys to Jumpstart Your Conference experience:

1. Take daily time to pray about the various people you will meet and the ideas you will discuss. Ask the Lord to guide you through each detail of the conference such as who you will sit with at the opening meeting or where you will sit at each meal and what will be discussed. Ask for God to give you divine appointments. These encounters will be far beyond anything that you could have orchestrated or planned. Be aware and watching for the Lord's handiwork throughout the conference.

2. The second way to Jumpstart Your Conference Experience is to come prepared to meet others and start new relationships. Prepare some business cards and be prepared to give them out to everyone you meetóbut don't make it a one way exchange. When you give a business card, make sure you receive a business card. Writing is a solitary occupation and we need each other. You will form new and lasting friendships at the conference if you come prepared for it.

3. The third way to Jumpstart Your Conference Experience is to study the background for the various faculty members and get familiar with their different roles. Publishing is constantly changing. I'm in a different role as a publisher than six months ago when I was a literary agent or when I've been as an acquisitions editor. Your familiarity with the different faculty will help you form deeper relationships during the conference. I believe your time in preparation will be rewarded.

4. The final way to Jumpstart Your Conference Experience is to come with the right heart attitude. Many writers come to their first conference expecting to sell their book manuscript or magazine article. Yes, there will be some of those exchanges at the conference. A much more central part of every writer's conference is where individuals learn new aspects of publishing and take great strides of personal growth. Come with expectations and a willingness to learn and grow. With the right heart attitude, I'm convinced that you will not be disappointed but your expectations will actually be exceeded.

How can I say that expectations will be exceeded? Because I know each member of the faculty is a Christian and a person who is filled with the Spirit of the Living God. I love the verse in Ephesians 3:20 which says, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."

Today God is preparing for you the people and lives that will be touched during the time we are together at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. I will be coming with high expectations and anticipations. I've never been disappointed in the past.

See you soon at the Northside Baptist Church!

A New Guide to Social Media Marketing

I've resisted many of the tools of social media because they appear to be a huge time zapper. Yet repeatedly as I've experimented with the tools, I've found huge benefits and returns on my investment -- often in surprising ways. Paul Gillin is an expert in this medium and you can learn a vast amount of insight from the pages of Secrets of Social Media Marketing.

And my resistance? It is rooted in my resistance to change. Gillin writes in the introduction, "Embracing change is the only sure success strategy in a business world that is evolving faster than we have ever known. Students of the information technology industry know that failure to adapt to change can obliterate even larger and successful companies with blinding speed. In this book, I'll make the case that the changes now roiling the marketing world are the best thing that's ever happened to the profession. Start embracing these changes now, and you'll propel your company and your career to new heights. Deny them, and you'll watch as the skills that have served you well for many years move rapidly toward irrelevance."

That quotation rings true from my experience in the market. It's a small sample of what you will find inside this book. Throughout the book, various secrets are emphasized in simple words. He refers to many websites and tools to help you streamline and be effective with the various social media possibilities. For example, in the chapter Basics of Social Media Content, Gillin writes, "Keep it simple, make it personal and give people a reason to pass it on." (Page 189)

Make full use of this book and return to it over and over. Read it with a highlighter with flags so you can spot the relevant places to apply for your own marketing efforts. My book is lined with these markers from reading this well-crafted book.

I resonated with what Gillin wrote toward the end of his introduction, "Writing a book about a market that's changing so fast is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. Any book about this topic is out of date the moment it is published, so I've attempted to distill the lessons learned from the early successes of social media pioneers." He has more than fulfilled this promise.

Throughout this book, Gillin refers to numerous websites and tools. He's made the process of using these tools simple with a website which captures every detail with clickable links and referenced throughout the book. If you can't tell, I got a great deal from reading this book which I will be attempting to apply to my own writing life in the days ahead. You can do likewise if you get and read Secrets of Social Media Marketing.

The Details of Making Books

By W. Terry Whalin

Over the last few months, I've returned to working with authors on their books--all the details of their books such as their titles, their book covers and their words on the inside of the books. It is consuming and I have some great projects in the works. I want to tell you about one of them that is coming soon called Spiritual lessons from Wall Street.

Recently I was working with author Brandon Pope on a sample of the interior of his book. I am not designing the interior--but I am the connection between the author and the person doing that layout. Within our system at Intermedia, the author has more control over every detail of the process. I personally like it when an author takes a more hands on approach--because then I know they care about every detail of the book. As I've many times, the details count in book publishing--and many people shrug or ignore the details. It did not happen with this author.

After about a dozen phone calls and even more emails, we finally got the sample of the interior. Toward the end of this process, I'll admit I was ready to get the approval and move on to something else which is screaming from my workload. Yet Brandon persisted on every detail of the sample until it was right.

Later that day, I was thinking about the process and I applauded this author for his persistence. From my experience, it is the difference between making something that is good and something that is great.

The essence of any book begins with an excellent manuscript. You can have a snappy title and a beautiful book cover. But if the words on the inside don't deliver on the promises of the cover and title, then you will not get that buzz going for the book. I'm talking about where readers rave about their reading experience and it is all they can talk about for several days. They tell everyone in their path -- whether through email or in person--about the book.

Yes there are many things you can do to stimulate that conversation or buzz--and as an author, you need to make that continual marketing effort.

Every writer needs to be concerned about creating an excellent manuscript and persist in getting the details right. I believe it will pay off for Spiritual Lessons from Wall Street.

The Power of Asking

By W. Terry Whalin

We live in a busy world and the pace of life seems to get faster each day. The amount of email and good things that we can jump into only seems to multiply: blogs, twitter, facebook, myspace, forums and email newsletters. My encouragement is for you to handle it one task at a time. It is OK, not to blog or be involved in twitter. Each element is a choice and you have to know and understand the reason you have strategically decided to be involved in such an effort. Also periodically return to your different obligations and see if they continue to contain value. If not, then see how to eliminate or reduce them. It's something I'm actively doing all the time.

Later this coming week I will be speaking at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. I'm looking forward to telling the audience some unusual stories about my journey into publishing. How was I asked to be their keynote speaker? You can find some of those details in this post from Emily Akin. In particular notice the sixth paragraph, "Once she picked her jaw up from the floor, she opened the message, in which Whalin expressed interest in being on faculty for 2009 conference. He mentioned his "deep family roots" in Kentucky, included several topics on which he could speak, and added that he would have a new book out in time for KCWC '09." (I've underlined what I'm emphasizing here.). I wrote Emily, the conference organizer, and asked to be considered for their faculty. The rest of the story is also in this post but it started with my own initiative to ask for consideration. What sort of dreams do you have for your own writing life? Are you asking?

During a recent lunch with one of my Intermedia authors, he asked me about how to get the endorsements and foreword for his forthcoming book. We discussed some possible names and relationships that this author has established. One of the keys in this process is to simply ask the people for their help. Also how you ask is critical. When you ask, I recommend you position your question in the easiest possible way for that person to say yes. For example with an endorsement or foreword for a book, the people who are most often approached are very busy people. How can you make your request stand out--and make it easy for that person to say yes?

If you haven't been in publishing, you probably don't understand these high profile people (the type you want to endorse your book) are regularly asked to write an endorsement. Yet they have several hurdles in accepting such a request--time to read the book and then write something coherent and appropriate about the book. In the process of asking them, I recommend you offer to possibly write them a "draft" endorsement. It will erase the potential hurdle and position you as an understanding person who wants them to say "yes." I've written many drafts of endorsements over the years and sometimes the person will take my exact words and other times they will rewrite them. It adds to the power of your asking if you ask in the right way.

Over several days, I've been thinking about this simple principle. Ironically bestselling author Jack Canfield wrote about the same topic in his newsletter through the article, Good Things Come To Those Who Ask. I encourage you to read, study and apply the principles in this excellent article.

What is holding you back from making the next step in your publishing life? I have many insights about taking next steps in my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Have you read it? Are you implementing the information? If not, then I'm asking you to get your copy today.

Are you using the power of asking? Do it today and you will be surprised at what can happen. I believe something amazing is in store for you.

How To Develop An Original Voice

By Laura Backes

A story without a strong voice does not come alive for the reader, does not touch the readerís imagination. Thatís because the author isnít present in the story. This is tricky, because one of our goals as children's authors is to remain invisible. We want our readers to become so immersed in our stories that they forget an adult is behind the words. We donít want them to ever break that suspension of disbelief and realize that a person other than the main character created this tale. And yet if we remove ourselves entirely from the book it has no soul. So your author's "voice" is really that part of you thatís timeless, that reaches back across the generations and connects with the reader on his or her level. That part of you that says "I know what youíre feeling," and says it in a way that only you can.

Voice is the simplest writing technique to learn, because itís already in you. But itís the hardest to achieve, because it involves trusting yourself. It means learning what goes into a childrenís book and then forgetting it, or rather placing all those "rules" into your subconscious and allowing yourself to write. And learning to write without that annoying internal editor who says, "Youíre doing this wrong."

All stories start with an idea. We read something in the newspaper, we have a dream, we recall a vivid childhood experience. And in that moment, that first exciting spark where anything is possible, we think, "This would make a great book."

Then we start plotting out the story in our heads. And we begin to worry about the characters and the dialogue, when the climax of the plot will take place, how it will end. I suggest that in that first moment of inspiration you stop and ask yourself "Why do I need to write this story?" Forget about your audience. Be selfish. Whatís in it for you? You might try brainstorming on paper, freewriting where you jot down anything and everything that comes to mind. Leave that pesky editor in another room. You need to find a reason for creating this story that speaks to your writerís heart, in order to speak to your readerís heart.

Another way of looking at this is to ask yourself, "When I was five, did I need this book?" Try to answer this question from your five-year-old consciousness, which still lives inside you, rather than from your current adult perspective. If the answer is no (you wouldnít have sat still for this story) then youíre writing it for the wrong reasons. Discovering why you need to write this story -- and this applies equally to fiction and nonfiction -- leads you to that passion editors talk about. If youíre writing the story or article because something inside of you needs to hear it told, then youíre writing from your heart.

However, you still need to develop a technique that translates this passion from your imagination to words on paper. And a big part of the key to developing this technique is time. With a lot of practice, your voice will emerge, if you let it. This involves spending many hours just writing, without the pressure of creating a manuscript that you intend to submit to a publisher. Donít feel every time you put pen to paper it has to result in something that youíre actually going to show to anyone else. Instead of dictating where your writing will go, allow yourself to be surprised. Write about whateverís on your mind at that moment, describe what you see through your window, follow a memory and see where it goes. This process of stretching your writing muscles with no pressure to actually create something substantial allows you to relax, and eventually your voice will emerge.

I suggest you keep these "creative stretches" and, after youíve accumulated a file, take them out and look at them all together. Seen as a group, certain things should pop out at you. If youíve really allowed yourself to write freely during these exercises without editing yourself, youíll begin to see how your writing illustrates the way you look at the world. This viewpoint, your authorís viewpoint, will be original. And while I believe that there are no original themes, there are an infinite number of original stories, or ways of examining those themes.

If you read award-winning children's books you'll notice that the prose seems effortless. This is the result of a strong voice, though itís deceiving because it takes many revisions to achieve. However, if your writing sounds forced, your voice wonít ring true. This forced tone happens when authors try too hard to sound like a writer. I think the best voices happen when authors write as they speak. We've all had the experience of a story sounding great in our heads, but then losing something when it's translated to paper. Thatís because in your head youíre telling the story to yourself in your speaking voice, and when you write it down suddenly youíre trying to sound like a writer. You search through the thesaurus for the perfect word, a word youíd never use in normal conversation. And suddenly in that process of writing down whatís in your head, youíve lost your voice. And youíve adapted the voice of someone else, or the voice you think your writing should have. So next time you write, try writing exactly whatís in your head.

If you type, try typing your writing exercise with your eyes closed, so you canít see , and edit, what you've written. Closing your eyes also helps you focus inward where the story is being created. Then all youíll have to go by is how the words sound and feel in your head, and thatís the closest thing to your true voice.
About the Author: Laura Backes is the publisher of Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers. For more information about writing children's books, including free articles, market tips, insider secrets and much more, visit Children's Book Insider's home on the web at

Copyright 2009, Children's Book Insider, LLC.
Reprinted with permission.

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